Tuesday, August 11, 2009


“Saint Clare” (detail)
by Giotto di Bondone, 1325


Biographical Information about St. Clare [1]

Readings for the Memorial of St. Clare

Readings and Commentary:

Philippians 3:8-14

Brothers and sisters:
I consider everything as a loss
because of the supreme good of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.
For his sake I have accepted the loss of all things
and I consider them so much rubbish,
that I may gain Christ and be found in him,
not having any righteousness of my own based on the law
but that which comes through faith in Christ,
the righteousness from God,
depending on faith to know him and the power of his resurrection
and the sharing of his sufferings by being conformed to his death,
if somehow I may attain the resurrection from the dead.

It is not that I have already taken hold of it
or have already attained perfect maturity,
but I continue my pursuit in hope that I may possess it,
since I have indeed been taken possession of by Christ Jesus.
Brothers and sisters, I for my part
do not consider myself to have taken possession.
Just one thing: forgetting what lies behind
but straining forward to what lies ahead,
I continue my pursuit toward the goal,
the prize of God's upward calling, in Christ Jesus.
Commentary on
Phil 3:8-14

Paul begins this selection with his own profession – all he has given up for the Lord counts for nothing as he holds Christ’s Lordship as the only thing of worth. He goes on to say that it is only through his faith in Christ that he receives salvation, that his former devotion to the Law of Moses did not accomplish salvation (as the Jews believe).

In the second section Paul again uses himself as example, telling the Philippians that (even) he has not achieved the end goal of “perfect maturity” (a final state of grace); rather he still pursues that goal.

This discourse likely addresses some members of the community who fell they have achieved that high state of grace and have lost their humility. By his example Paul, who in his status as founder would be considered to have been further along this course, demonstrates the humble attitude that should be present.

CCC: Phil 3:8-11 428; Phil 3:8 133; Phil 3:10-11 989, 1006; Phil 3:10 648
Psalm 16:1b-2a, 5,7-8, 11

R. (see 5a) You are my inheritance, O Lord.

Keep me, O God, for in you I take refuge.
I say to the LORD, "My Lord are you."
O LORD, my allotted portion and my cup,
you it is who hold fast my lot.
R. You are my inheritance, O Lord.

I bless the LORD who counsels me;
even in the night my heart exhorts me.
I set the LORD ever before me;
with him at my right hand I shall not be disturbed.
R. You are my inheritance, O Lord.

You will show me the path to life,
fullness of joys in your presence,
the delights at your right hand forever.
R. You are my inheritance, O Lord.
Commentary on
Ps 16:1b-2a, 5,7-8, 11

Psalm 16 is a song of thanksgiving. We see the messianic vision as the singer speaks of the cup of salvation and the path to life. The psalmist calls to the people to put all their trust in the Lord.

Matthew 19:27-29

Peter said to Jesus,
"We have given up everything and followed you.
What will there be for us?"
Jesus said to them, "Amen, I say to you
that you who have followed me, in the new age,
when the Son of Man is seated on his throne of glory,
will yourselves sit on twelve thrones,
judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
And everyone who has given up houses or brothers or sisters
or father or mother or children or lands
for the sake of my name will receive a hundred times more,
and will inherit eternal life."
Commentary on
Mt 19:27-29

St. Matthew’s Gospel continues the focus on valuing the spiritual life above the material pursuits of earthly existence. The disciples were dismayed at the aestheticism required by the discipline and sacrifice required by Christ. In response to Peter's expression of this concern, Jesus, in an eschatological discourse, provides a vision of the heavenly kingdom in which those who have faithfully followed the Lord will receive an inestimable reward.

CCC: Mt 19:23-29 2053; Mt 19:23-24 226; Mt 19:26 276, 308, 1058; Mt 19:28 765

"We have given up everything and followed you. What will there be for us?"

As we hear St. Peter’s confession that the disciples of Jesus had given up every worldly possession to follow Jesus, we find in his plea the heart of St. Francis and a fundamental principle of the spirituality of St. Clare of Assisi. From her beginnings she intuitively recognized that the lure of the secular world would detract from her absolute dependence upon Christ for salvation.

Even after her flight from the world to the life of religious devotion, the world conspired to shake her from that utter rejection of property and comfort. She demonstrated heroically that life of the spirit was sufficient even more desirable than one in which the “things” of the world demanded attention be diverted from her Savior and Lord.

While not everyone is called to such asceticism, St. Clare’s sense that poverty provides a path to a deeper spiritual life and that wealth can be a distraction is a boon to those of us who live in a society that judges life a success based upon how much material wealth can be amassed. With ownership comes responsibility to what is owned, anyone who has owned a pet knows the truth of that statement. With poverty comes a path of complete devotion to God whose property we are.

We ask for St. Clare’s intercession on this, her feast day. May we always recognize that our first priority must always be a life in Christ and that we may be strong in resisting the allure of wealth and material goods over our desire to posses a loving faith in Christ.


[1] The picture is “Saint Clare” (detail) by Giotto di Bondone, 1325
[2] Text of Readings is taken from the New American Bible, Copyright © Libreria Editrice Vaticana, Excerpts from the English translation of The Roman Missal © 1973, International Committee on English in the Liturgy, Inc. All rights reserved.

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